UPDATE: Va. Man Drowns, Others Seriously Injured In Ocean City

OCEAN CITY — Three distressed swimmers were rescued from the surf at North Division Street early Wednesday morning including one victim who has been transported to Atlantic General Hospital in serious condition.

Around 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Ocean City Fire Department rescue swimmers were dispatched to the beach at North Division Street for swimmers in distress. Upon arrival, first-responders learned four swimmers had entered the still-rough ocean and began to struggle. One of the swimmers made it to shore and called 911, prompting the rapid response from the OCFD rescue swimmers.

The OCFD rescue swimmers arrived on scene and assisted two of the victims to shore. During the rescue, a fourth swimmer began suffering from an apparent cardiac arrest. The victim, a 22-year-old J-1 visa student from Ireland, was brought to shore and was immediately give CPR and then transported to Atlantic General Hospital in “very” serious condition, according to a release.

Ocean City Communications Manager Jessica Waters reported Thursday morning, “He is still alive but in very serious condition. I believe the prognosis is grim. It is completely heartbreaking.”

Wednesday morning’s incident was one of many this week in the rough surf following last weekend’s storm, including a fatal incident on Monday, reiterating the Ocean City Beach Patrol’s mantra “keep your feet in the sand until the lifeguard is in the stand.” The beach patrol is on duty manning lifeguard stands every day during the summer from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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Around 7:30 p.m. on Monday, the OCBP and OCFD rescue swimmers were alerted to a swimmer in serious trouble in the area of 1st Street. The OCBP and OCFD first-responders went into the water to rescue the victim, later identified as Timothy Thompson, 35, of Prince George, Va., but he went under before they could reach him. He was recovered from the surf about 10 minutes later. Also participating in the search and rescue was the U.S. Coast Guard and the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP).

First-responders on the beach administered CPR on the victim until Ocean City EMS arrived on scene and took over the efforts to revive him. He was later declared deceased at AGH. The incident occurred roughly two hours after the OCBP came off the stands at 5:30 p.m. as they do every day during the summer, reinforcing the all-important public safety message of always swimming in the ocean when the lifeguards are on duty.

“We urge our beach patrons to swim only when the lifeguards are on duty and to take the time to walk to and swim in front of the lifeguard,” said Ocean City Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald. “Our deepest sympathies are with the family who lost a loved one today.”

It’s never a good idea to swim in the ocean after the lifeguards are off-duty for the day, but complicating Monday’s incident were the rough conditions with rip currents following the weekend storm. When the OCBP is on duty, always swim near a lifeguard and listen carefully to their instructions. OCBP surf rescue technicians hold daily advisory sessions each morning, explaining to beachgoers and swimmers conditions unique to that particular day and teaching them how to safely swim out of rip currents for example.

In another incident late last week, Ocean City Emergency Services and the beach patrol responded to the beach at Caroline Street for a report of an individual floating in the ocean with a possible cardiac or respiratory arrest. He was given CPR on the beach and was transported to the hospital, but the outcome is unclear.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.